The typical affair used to start in an office and move to a seedy hotel room. In digital age, there’s no need to leave the house to have an affair. Internet has brought infidelity into many couples’ homes over the past decade. The growth of steamy chat room conversations and cybersex has brought some important questions: If there is no physical contact or actual sex, is it an online affair still an affair?
Anthropologist Margaret Mead once suggested that monogamy is the most difficult of all human marital arrangements. Clinton’s assertion that he did not have sex with Monica raised the question of not only what sex is but what it is not. Then the instant gratification of online platforms like Twitter and Facebook went mainstream, providing us with yet another channel through which we could exercise our sexual restrain.
An online affair involves similar emotions to an affair in real life. It involves secrecy, excitement, and most of all: denial that what you are doing is wrong.While there is no universal definition as to where the line lies exactly, if your online chats involve intimate and sexually stimulating conversations, it’s already considered an online affair by some. Others define it as such only where there is cybersex or any form of masturbation involved.
Just like a real life affair, it can lead to more than just exchange of words and can be just as devastating as a physical affair, triggering feelings of insecurity, anger and jealousy.
Any Facebook chats or Twitter conversations, potentially harmless, can turn into more. All it takes is two willing people and an internet connection. Are you having an online affair?
If you answer YES to 5 or more of the following questions, you may want to rethink your online friendships if you want to keep your offline relationship.
1. Is Your Online Friend a Secret?
Does your partner know about your online friend’s existence? Have you shared the fact you have someone you talk to online regularly with your spouse? Does your partner know about the extend of your online friendship: the topics of your conversations and the time you spend chatting with your friend? If not, what is the reason? Are you worried they would be mad or is the idea of having this as a secret making your cyber friend even more desirable?
2. Do You Exchange Intimate Photos With Your Online Friend?
Have you exchanged any pictures you would not want your partner to know about? Have the two of your send each other erotic and sexually suggestive photos of yourself? If not, has the thought crossed your mind?
3. Are You Spending a Lot of Time Chatting Online?
If you find yourself spending more than three, four hours a week chatting and exchanging personal information, discussing all events from your daily life, and laughing at the pics of grumpy cats more often that you do with your significant other, you are on your way to having an online affair.
4. Do You Think About Them Offline?
This can only be worse if you look forward to spending time with your online friend when you are offline. When something exciting happens, do you want to share this excitement with him/her immediately? Are you preoccupied thinking about your online friend? Do you catch yourself imagining different scenarios of the pair of you doing things together (not always of a sexual nature)? Do you look forward to your chats?
5. Do You Discuss Your Real Life Relationship With Your Online Friend?
Do you find yourself sharing your marital or relationship related problems and issues? Do they know more about your spouse than you let out? Do you tell them about your future plans, wishes and dreams, aims and disappointments? Do you find your online friend a better listener? Are they understanding and helpful? Do you find yourself wishing your partner cared as much as your online friend does? Are they there for you whenever you are going through a rocky patch? Do they always know what to say and how to cheer you up? Are they your safety blanket whenever you feel upset? Being a shoulder to cry on is usually a base for every online affair.
6. Are You Beginning to Resent Your Spouse?
It’s starts with fantasising about your online friend, then you catch yourself thinking about them when having sex with your spouse. You start making comparisons between your online friend and your partner in which the latter rarely looks favourable. You start feeling anger towards them and everything they do annoys your. Typical behaviour, like leaving half finished cups of coffee on the side of the sink can cause incredible fury and arguments that last all day. You lose your patience and become less tolerant of your spouse. The resentment follows. You feel completely withdrawn emotionally and eventually you lose all interest in having sexual intercourse or any sort of sexual activity with your partner at all. Before you know it, you are thinking of ways to meet your online friend in person and take this online affair one step further, even though you still denying it actually is an affair.
7. Thinking of arranging a meeting?
This seems totally innocent. I mean what can possibly happen if you two were to meet in real life? WRONG! Everything can happen. We are talking about two people, who like each other, click when it comes to personality, know enough about each other and still find each other attractive. The chemistry is there and the fact it’s forbidden feeling, having partner at home, adds spice to the whole situation. How do you think this is going to end up? Yet, meeting for lunch or coffee quite often becomes a topic of your conversations. The meeting is often the last straw before something potentially harmless becomes destructive.
Ok. So you got yourself into trouble. What now?
Don’t live in denial. Stop rationalising it to yourself. The sheer thought you are planning to meet is bad enough. The first step to get over / stop your online affair is calling it what it is. If not with your partner, be honest with yourself. Is it all worth the pain this is (will be?) causing your partner and potentially your family? How will you feel when all this comes out? There is no light that will make you look innocent here. You let it slip, you carried it on, you failed.
The easiest way to cut down on your engagement with your online friend is to cut down on the time you spend online, but that’s a lot to ask for when a large part of our life in general is online. If, however, you can do that: great! Get out, see real people you know, dust off friendships and contact you haven’t spoken to for a while. Do things that are fun with your partner. This may be tricky at the beginning, after prolonged period of resentment, but fake it till you make it.
After cutting your online affair from your life permanently, you will feel exactly like after a breakup, because essentially that’s what it is. It’s going to feel emotionally uncomfortable. You will question yourself, but after a while you will understand this was a better decision than carrying on. Your real life relationship will most likely get better, too.
Is it all worth it? Yes. You are in a relationship for a reason. There are good times and the bad times, and the latter look even worse in comparison to what you think your relationship with the online friend would look like, but as you know, grass is rarely greener on the other side.
Of course, you may have your reasons: husband / wife / boyfriend / girlfriend SUCKS. They don’t understand you anymore, they stop showering, shaving legs, no longer buy you flowers and constantly suffer with back pain. They might have put on weight, work long hours and haven’t got as much time for you as they used to. The romance may have evaporated, and you no longer find them sexually attractive. Or attractive in any other way whatsoever.
If this is the case, deal with it first, before moving on and immersing yourself in the new, exciting world of a fresh romance. If you think you are too weak to do it yourself (this is entirely possible, but I believe in you!) consult a specialist. Don’t feel ashamed, this situation is more common than you think. Good luck!
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